One of the most exciting days for a video-game developer is release day, and for those of us who worked on Star Wars: The Force Unleashed 2, October 26th, 2010 is our day. It’s one we’ve been building up to since the release of the original Star Wars: The Force Unleashed back in 2008. Starkiller has returned as the game’s protagonist, and he’s more bad-ass than ever. But is he really Starkiller? If you played the first game then you know he sacrificed himself to save key members of the Rebellion he helped start. So how is it possible that Starkiller is alive? Not one to stay idle, Darth Vader has been doing some tinkering in a secret laboratory on Kamino, the cloning planet from Star Wars: Episode II: Attack of the Clones. I think you can see where I’m going with this.
Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II is all about a personal journey, one where you attempt to unravel the mystery behind whether Starkiller’s a clone or not. The first game was all about redemption; the second is about identity and searching for the truth. It’s an epic story full of revelation; but it’s also a game full of intense action.
What made the first game so much fun to play was the unleashed nature of your Force powers–never in a game had we seen such a visceral, over-the-top imagining of the Force. Before I go any further, yes, Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II is still as over-the-top as the original in the portrayal of the Force, but it’s the improvements we’ve made to the gameplay that’s the real story here. For one, the team really concentrated making the targeting system more user-friendly as Force Gripping and throwing enemies at targets has never been more fun or more precise. The camera system has been reworked to show a better view of the action, opening up the battlefield for epic showdowns.
Speaking of epic showdowns, one our pillars for Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II was to create insanely intense boss battles in spectacle, size, and scale—and that’s exactly what we did! Hopefully you’ve seen footage over the past few months showcasing the largest boss in a Star Wars game to date, the mighty Gorog! It’s clearly evident from the start that Starkiller can’t possibly go toe-to-toe, so it’s up to you to figure out what attacks are the most effective. To that end, the team also concentrated on making the Imperial NPCs smarter and tougher to defeat. What this means is that you can no longer blaze through the game using one form of attack. Like the boss battles, you will have to experiment to find out which attacks are the most effective per each enemy type. There is a lot to discover in Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II; and we as the developers want you to get as much out of the game as we put into it.
As one would expect, the team also created new gameplay scenarios that weren’t possible while making the first game, and none that were more exciting than the massive freefall that opens the game. Again, when making a sequel, you want to infuse it with bigger and better things, and the freefall was one of the first new innovations we explored when making Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II. Initially we planned on using this much later in the game, but when you’re trying to make an instant impression, why save the goodness for later? Oh, and we can’t overlook the new Challenge Mode feature that is new to the Star Wars: The Force Unleashed franchise. Here, you can jump in and play fun mini-games that will help improve your overall Jedi prowess, while unlocking cool extras like lightsaber crystals, costumes, and cinematics.
Gameplay enhancements aside, I would say the biggest strides we made while making Star Wars: The Force Unleashed 2 were to our graphics and rendering engine. As you can tell from gameplay footage, this game is simply gorgeous-looking! Having built the sequel with most of the people that helped create the original Star Wars: The Force Unleashed was a huge deal. What that meant when it came to making Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II was that our content creators were able to request refinements to the tools that would ultimately help them create a much more polished-looking and better playing game than the first.